Costa Maya Newsletter
Newsletters > NOV 2006
Maya Newsletters: of primary interest to property owners on the Costa
Maya, - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera - Xcalak and other
points along the coast
Nov. 06, 2006**************************
* Message board topic for Costa Maya Neighbors
* Despeinada palm
* New development on the Costa Maya and surrounding area
* Cruise News
* Swimming with Stingrays
* AA on the Costa Maya
* Should you be eating that fish?
* Learn Spanish on-line
* Recycling news (finally!)
* News you can use about FM-3s
* Spotlight on your Neighbors
I'm sure all of you are at least somewhat aware of the Mexican festival
that is Day of the Dead. Before coming to Mexico, I thought it was
a tradition that was similar to Halloween, only maybe a little more
quaint and without the "trick or treat." I'm discovering
that it is a lovely tradition, and has nothing to do with Halloween.
It is time for families to get together and remember those who have
passed away. Sure there are sugar candy skulls, but those are looked
on fondly -- not as something frightful, but as a remembrance of loved
ones. It is also a time for food! Families build alters in their homes
and place a loved one's favorite food on the altar as they remember
fond things about the person. Throughout Mexico, people gather and
eat "Pan de Muerto" or Bread of the Dead, a lovely bread
with a delicate texture, flavored with Anise or cinnamon and vanilla
and decorated with crossbones. Mountains of Pan de Muerto are sold
at the grocery stores, but my cook makes it up fresh and we dunk it
into foamy chocolate milk. It is also the day when Mexicans in this
area eat Relleno Negro. This black and white dish uses burnt chilies
to flavor and make it black. It is savory and wonderful. You might
find it in some Mexican restaurants, but similar to Turkey and stuffing
at the USA's Thanksgiving, you usually only eat this one day of the
year. We've had it the last three years and it just gets better, as
does our understanding of this great traditional celebration. Hope
you all in the US had a great Halloween and are looking forward to
Thanksgiving (Dia de Gracias). And yes, we can get turkeys, and are
looking forward to traditional Thanksgiving fare as well!
You can find this issue of the newsletter and archives of past e-newsletters
at this location:
MESSAGE BOARD FOR COSTA MAYA NEIGHBORS
The response to the Costa Maya Message Board has been lackluster
this month. I guess the subject matter of recommended services was
more of a "lurker" type of thing -- lots of people looking,
but not very many people offering advice (thanks for those who did!!!!).
We've been receiving a lot of interest in the Concession for the Federal
Zone lately, and rightly so. If you don't have your federal zone,
it is a good idea to get it. We have heard of more than one instance
of an official requiring proof of an application for the federal zone
before a building permit was approved (although we think this is not
a real requirement because what if someone else bought the federal
zone?). Also, we've seen some buyers starting to ask sellers to secure
the federal zone BEFORE a sale is complete. We have had both good
and bad experiences with acquiring ours. The first time, someone took
our money and never filed the paperwork (we found out sadly later)
and we had to start all over again. We still don't have the final
permit. Maybe you have had a great experience. If you have had any
experience with getting your federal Zone, good or bad, please join
and voice your questions or advice. If you don't even know what a
"federal zone concession" is, you might become educated.
We know some people who have been swindled in the process of acquiring
theirs. Its not a cheap process, and misunderstandings abound. It
would be great if we can help each other.
Costa Maya Live Forum - http://www.costamayalive.com/Forum/index.php
Building regulations and Permits / Federal Zone concession - http://www.costamayalive.com/Forum/viewforum.php?f=2
You may never have heard of Despeinada Palm -- I hadn't before moving
here, but it is a plant you should become familiar with. You absolutely
cannot remove this palm if it is on your property. The Despeinada
falls in the same category as Mangroves -- if you have one of these
on your property, you don't cut it down. You should feel extremely
lucky if you do have a Despeinada, however, because it is really a
beautiful tree. What then does this palm look like? I searched for
a long time and finally found it at a park in the middle of the Yucatan
Peninsula, on a nature walk. There, I found both the Mayan name -
tsipil or Dzipil and the Latin name, which is Beaucarnea ameliae
I managed to get a sampling from a neighbor, who had it growing in
her garden, and now I have one right outside my MBG door. It is found
in the Forests around Lake Bacalar, but I've never seen one growing
naturally. I've included a picture of a Despeinada on the Mayan Beach
Garden web site. http://www.mayanbeachgarden.com/Trees.htm
NEW DEVELOPMENT ON COSTA MAYA AND SURROUNDING AREA
Sam's Club opening - As promised last month, I went to the
opening of Sam's club. It was not dissimilar from the one in Playa
Del Carmen, but it didn't have as many higher quality items. For example,
the imported food section was missing, there weren't as many varieties
of wines and I felt all the steaks still looked a lot like Round steak.
Still, I was able to buy a block of Parmesan cheese at 1/2 the price
I would have paid at Chedraui's, but I didn't really see much in the
way of bargains. I was, however, able to purchase zip-lock freezer
bags (the ones in the grocery stores are way to thin to protect from
freezer burn) and they did have a lot of bulk items for restaurants
and Hotels (which I care about.)
Road report - The rainy season has been brutal to the roads.
Both jungle roads, the one going south to Xcalak and the one that
goes north to Tampalam now have lots of potholes -- one or two are
large enough to bend your rim and flatten a tire on a small car, so
watch out. The beach roads have had some improvements -- especially
the beach-road running south out of Mahahual. The problem is that
it was improved in the middle of rainy season and it gets so much
traffic, that it will soon be in bad shape again. The first 4.5 kms.
North of Uvero Beach club were improved last winter by TransCaribbean
during the dry season and has held up quite well. They have also improved
the beach road south of Rio Indio -- another nice improvement. I hear
that the Beach Road north of Xcalak is also slated for improvement.
Mahahual seems to fix the road through town once a month, only to
have it beat up during each rain.
Chetumal - On a better note, the highway into Chetumal is
getting some new overpasses. Watch so that you don't get lost in the
small detours that are put up (I found myself heading into Belice
one day), but when it is done, the overpasses they are working on
will make things safer and easier to drive through. Weekly we keep
seeing improvements in Chetumal. If you think about it -- 3 years
ago there wasn't even a movie theater in Chetumal. Now there is a
movie theater complex, department stores, more Mega stores and Office
Depot. MacDonalds and Burger King have also moved in (although I wouldn't
call that an improvement). I just hope that some of the flavor of
Chetumal is not lost.
Queen Mary 2 to Visit Costa Maya -- in 2004 when it was built, the
Queen Mary was the largest cruise ship ever built and the only one
now doing regular trans-Atlantic voyages. On Wednesday Nov. 29 along
with two other ships. NOT a great day to be in little Mahahual unless
you want to see this big ship. It is in town with two other ships,
so it should be a very crowded day.
Cruise Lines Stand By Stingray Excursions Steve Irwin, Australian
wildlife conservationist and host of the popular TV series "The
Crocodile Hunter," died September 4 after being attacked by a
stingray off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland, Australia
-- and the tragedy has had some cruisers questioning shore excursions
that feature Sting Rays. At this point, there are no Sting Ray excursions
at the Costa Maya, but it is interesting to see that all of the Cruise
ships are standing by their tours.
SWIMMING WITH STING RAYS
Shortly after Steve Irwin's freak incident with a bull ray in Australia,
a man in Florida was wounded by a spotted eagle ray, which is very
common here on the Costa Maya. In the second incident, the stingray
jumped out of the water and landed in the boat. As the man was attempting
to return the ray into the water, he was pierced in the heart. The
Associated Press reports that stingrays are "normally shy"
creatures, and that experts are calling these incidents as "freak
How "freak" is it? Eagle ray stings are extremely rare
because they spend much of their time swimming, unlike the more commonly
seen southern rays that rest on the sandy sea floorand often
get stepped on.
Eagle rays do, however leap out of the water, slapping the surface
as they land. They are remarkable in that they are 3 ft - 5 ft across
but can have 16 foot tails.
Swimming with stingrays is a popular pastime in Caribbean ports of
call, including Antigua, Grand Turk and Grand Cayman (its Stingray
City is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Caribbean).
Cruise lines are reporting that stingray swims will operate as planned.
I've been stung myself, since I sometimes will touch a stingray in
an effort to get it to swim. One day, the tail flipped up and pierced
my hand. Not seriously, but enough to get a new respect for the animal.
Shortly thereafter, the two incidents occurred. Now I am much more
AA ON THE COSTA MAYA
Great news for AA members -- Anyone wishing to locate AA meetings
in Costa Maya can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Louise Trygstad for forwarding this email address. I've
had lots of requests from guests and neighbors for AA support. (which
by the way, if you are aware of ANY service that would be beneficial
to the neighborhood -- please share it!)
SHOULD YOU BE EATING THAT FISH?
Ocean's alive has a great website for anyone who supports saving
our oceans, but my favorite part of the site is where you can check
out your favorite fish and see if you should be eating it. Each fish
reviewed on is rated for health (such as how much mercury is in a
fish) and environmental issues - as to whether they are plentiful
or are severely depleted. Check out your favorite fish - it will give
you some reason to think a little: http://www.oceansalive.org/eat.cfm?subnav=healthalerts.
LEARN SPANISH ON LINE
This month, I discovered CONJUGUEMOS. This is a website made by a
teacher for teachers of Spanish. If your Spanish is getting to a point
where you want to start practicing verb conjugations and grammar,
this is a great website. The interface is very confusing, and you
have to register as a student (not a big deal since we are all students,
right?), but once you are logged into the site, there are lots of
interactive "worksheets" to help you practice your Spanish.
The nice thing about this site is it is forever growing. Teachers
submit lessons for their students who can then go and practice the
lessons - hence a predominance of words like backpack, pencil, chalk
and paper. Each quiz includes a timer, "vocabulary sheets"
to refer to and score at the end. It is run purely via donations,
so is completely free. If you find you like it and are using it, you
can donate to the cause.
RECYCLING IN THE NEWS (FINALLY!)
Kim and I have been hauling plastic to Chetumal to the recycling
center since April, just waiting for something to resume recycling
in Mahahual. When we fill our van, we get a whopping 50 pesos or so
for the plastic. It doesn't really pay, but it makes us feel a whole
lot better than turning into the landfill. Last week when Kim went
in, he was informed by the owner of the recycling center that there
would be a drop-off in Mahahual in the next couple of weeks. I am
still trying to find out where this is located. The plant in Chetumal
will take not only plastic bottles, but beach plastic as well. We
hope the drop-off center in Mahahual (where-ever it is!) will do the
same. We'll keep you posted.
NEWS YOU CAN USE ABOUT FM-3s
The following was sent to me by Kevin Graham, from Costa Maya Living,
and includes a few edits.
"As Costa Maya has developed it is becoming more common
that a non-Mexican citizen will sell his/her property. This has
caused a lot of grief at the last minute before closing because
the Seller(s) must have a FM-3 visa. It is usually a shock because
no FM-3 was necessary to purchase the property in the first place.
The problem is that agents, accountants and attorneys have not always
advised their clients of all the necessary requirements for legally
holding a property in a corporation or for maintaining the corporation
in a legal manner.
It is important that when opening a Foreign owned Mexican corporation,
owners need to make certain they contract the services of a good
accountant to file the corporation with the secretaries of economy,
treasury and foreign affairs and that one of the members of the
corporation must obtain and maintain an FM-3 visa (which requires
renewal every year).
An FM-3 visa can be obtained in the US from the Mexican Consulate
office quicker and for less money than it does here. However, when
entering Mexico it is still necessary to register the FM-3 at an
According to Ernesto Arranaga, Lawyer in Playa Del Carmen, if the
property is held in a Fide Camiso, Sellers don't need an FM-3 visa
to sell the property.
If you are at all confused about FM3's, there is a very good discussion
on the forum that started about 4 months ago. If anyone has any experience
with this, please provide some advice to the rest of us! I have an
FM3, but this was the first time I had heard that it was required
before selling property.
Forum Discussion on FM3's http://www.costamayalive.com/Forum/viewforum.php?f=8&sid=fa83d554427597f00dd6e574c10b3b8c
SPOTLIGHT ON YOUR NEIGHBORS:
I don't have a spotlight this month, but if you would like to be
featured on the neighborhood spotlight next month-- please send me
an email. It's a good way to find out who your neighbors are: http://www.mayanbeachgarden.com/PropertyOwners_spotlight.html
The editor of this newsletter (me) makes no claims that the information
here is completely true. I am not a news reporter, Spanish is not
my native language and this is not my primary business, but rather
a service to the neighborhood. If you find something untrue PLEASE
let me know and I will print a disclaimer. I try to verify the information
but even the newspaper prints up rumors, so I can only report what
I read and hear. THANKS!!!!!
Until Next month...
Regards from your Costa Maya Neighbor
Mayan Beach Garden, Boutique hotel on the Costa Maya